Young parents don’t trust GPs

Andrew Munro 13 September 2017

shutterstock hospital waiting room feet 738x410

Younger parents more likely visit the ER before the GP.

Less than half of Australian parents are confident that their general practitioner (GP) can handle most of their child's general health issues, according to a survey from the University of Melbourne.

The survey, published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, involved 2,100 parents of children aged 0-17 around Australia and found that only 44% were confident that their GP could handle almost all health issues for [their] child.

"GPs are being asked to do more and more, especially for the growing proportion of adults and elderly in the population. We need to make sure GPs have the training and support to provide the best care possible for children," said lead researcher Professor Gary Freed.

Disturbingly, 44% of parents were not confident that their GP could even handle minor injuries that did not require an x-ray. 56% however remained sure that their GP was able to handle these issues. Not all age groups were equally confident in their GPs however, and younger parents in particular may be more sceptical. This lack of confidence in GPs is turning into more hospital visits from parents with children.

According to researchers, this lack of confidence has two key effects: fewer parents are going to GPs and more parents are going straight to the hospital with minor health issues. This has the flow on effect of increasing wait times in public hospitals.

"We need to be able to ensure both the competence of GPs in the care of children, and the confidence among parents in that care," Professor Freed said.

The study also found that parents aged over 40, and the 70 percent of parents who always bulk billed, showed greater confidence in GPs than others.

However, parents under 40 who had completed secondary school were less likely than average to express complete confidence in a GP. This could have something to do with advances in technologies such as Dr Google and online symptom checkers.

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